Playmaker Benching Leaves TV Skit Shorthanded

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 6:31 pm by

A very determined Sean Salisbury is running a passing drill of some sort on “SportsCenter”, assisted by Tom Jackson, Ron Jaworski and…..Stuart Scott.

Kinda makes you wish the network would’ve hired someone with Hall Of Fame pass-catching credentials.

Oakland Signs Loaiza

Posted in Baseball at 5:44 pm by

The A’s have inked right-handed starter Esteban Loaiza to a three year, $21 million deal.

Loaiza, who will be 34 on opening day, was 12-10 (3.77 ERA, 173 K’s, 55 BB’s) for the Washington Nationals last season.

I’m no Nick Denton, but I count 7 bona fide starters on the A’s roster for ’06, and only one of them — Barry Zito — is entering his walk year.

Supposedly, the Cubs have signed free agent John Mabry to a one year deal. No financial details are available, nor has anyone explained how Mabry was able to find work so easily .

Mets Sign Wagner

Posted in Baseball at 4:00 pm by

The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Mets have signed reliever Billy Wagner to a 4 year, $43 million contract — all 4 years are guaranteed, with the Mets holding an option for a 5th year that could push the value of the deal to $50 million.

WFAN’s Chris Russo says the Mets’ opting for Billy Wagner (35 years old) over Trevor Hoffman (38) is “a tough call”. Replied Mike Francesca, “I didn’t see Hoffman pitch once last year.”, which makes sense considering the Padres play a lot of late games and Francesca probably has to get up by noon.

Earlier today, the Mets announced the acquisition of Pirates OF Tike Redman.

Lip-Synch Maven Stalked By Drunk Driving Frontman

Posted in Basketball, The World Of Entertainment at 2:19 pm by

From the New York Post’s Richard Johnson.

Ashlee Simpson can handle hecklers, but she couldn’t deal with the menacing Lower East Side artist Peter Missing. Simpson was in the middle of a sweatshirt shopping spree at Loft Shoe Productions on Ludlow Street last Wednesday when the toothless, grizzled anarchist, best known for his graffiti of an upside-down martini glass to protest drunk driving checkpoints, came into the store. According to witnesses, Missing nastily stared Simpson down until she fled next door, leaving her mother, Tina, to sort out her $600 tab. “We’ve had to kick him out before,” said owner Anne Hanavan. “He’s not appealing, and he tries to sell his paintings to our celebrity clients.”

Shame they couldn’t at least have a chatted — there was a great mash-up in here somewhere.

In a completely unrelated story, Cincinnati assistant basketball coach Keith LeGree has resigned after being charged with driving while under the influence over the weekend. Presumably under the influence of alcohol, as opposed to the new Bun B. CD, but they didn’t really specify.

Delgado Caves, Agrees To Stand For Turgid Tune

Posted in Baseball at 12:58 pm by

(Omar, Willie, Carlos and Jeff all say “Fuckin’-A, USA!”

From the AP :

Now that he’s been traded to the New York Mets, Carlos Delgado says he is willing to stand on the field during the playing of “God Bless America.”

After putting on a Mets jersey at a Shea Stadium news conference Monday, Delgado said he spoke about his anti-war protest with New York chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon.

“I gave him my views on that subject and I also said I would not put myself in front of the team,” Delgado said. “The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for ‘God Bless America’ and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub.”

In a completely unrelated story, free agent C Mike Piazza has told prospective employers that he’ll stand for the duration of Queensryche’s “Operation : Mindcrime”

Feelgood Bobby V. Hailed As Force For Social Change

Posted in Baseball at 9:24 am by

I sincerely hope Todd Hundley and Pete Harnisch have cancelled their home deliveries of the Washington Post. In a piece scarily reminiscent of the Ron Howard film “Gung Ho”, the Washington Post’s Anthony Faiola credits Chiba Lotte Marines manager Bobby Valentine with “having triggered a social earthquake in Japan.” (link courtesy Baseball Think Factory)

The success of the “Bobby Way” is being hailed by many here as a home run for a growing movement to curb the Japanese tradition of harsh management. Hiroshi Miyata, president of Nippon Metal Industry Co., called on corporate Japan in a newspaper editorial last week to start “treating our employees in the same way that Bobby does.” The current and former managers of three of Japan’s top baseball teams offered rare praise for Valentine’s methods, suggesting that the notion of severe training should be reexamined in the wake of the once-lowly Marines’ victory.

This month, the Tokyo-based Macro Mill research company conducted a survey of Japanese job hunters, asking them to list their ideal boss. Valentine was the only foreigner in the top 10.

“Bobby is a role model for Japan,” said Naoki Fujiya, a 36-year-old house painter who waited hours in line to catch a glimpse of Valentine and the Marines at last week’s parade. Fujiya said his boss had hit him several times for making errors. “But I think we all see now that you can do your best even when you treat the people who work for you with respect,” he said. “I wish Bobby was my boss.”

Anger at harsh management tactics boiled into a national debate in April, following a West Japan Railway crash near Osaka in which 107 people died. The train’s 23-year-old driver was believed to have been in a panic because he was running behind schedule, exceeding safe speed limits in an attempt to make up time.

Public outrage ensued after company employees began to speak out. A group of employees filed a lawsuit against the company this month in which one train driver said he was forced to undergo 71 days of “reeducation” — including cleaning trains and writing essays reflecting on his mistake — after overshooting a train platform by two yards. Another driver, who was subjected to reeducation after departing a station 50 seconds late, committed suicide during his ordeal.

Some have questioned whether the Japanese would perform successfully under alternative management methods. The 55-year-old Valentine, still muscular from daily workouts and with traces of gray in his dusty brown hair, put those arguments to rest this year.

Mushnick Cancels US Weekly Subscription

Posted in Sports Journalism at 9:09 am by

Along with protesting what he calls “the NFL’s Traditional Salute To Lap Dancing” during the Falcons/Eagles halftime show, the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick — having ignored my fan mail for years — prints the following observation from another loyal reader :

From Dan Brady of Hamilton, N.J.: “Nick and Jessica isn’t a break-up. Joe and Marilyn, now that was a break-up.”

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I think we’ve learned all we need to know about the sensibilities of Phil’s target audience.

Blount’s Blunt Reaction To Benching

Posted in Basketball at 9:02 am by

Whether he picks and chooses when to leave his feet or rather, there’s just an overall lack of effort from Celtics C Mark Blount, coach Doc Rivers chose the time-honored “send a message” tact of benching Blount this past Friday night against the Bobcats.

Blount (above), for his part, would appreciate some clarity. From the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.

œThere was no explanation, Blount said. œI didn™t know.

What he would like to know now is the team™s plan for his future. While Doc Rivers insists Blount can play an important role off the pine, the coach is committed for now to Kendrick Perkins as the starter. If Blount™s minutes dwindle, he may be checking his options.

œThen I™ve got to go call Mark (Bartelstein), my agent, and got to let him know what™s going on, he said. œYou know, we™ve got to sit down and talk.

œIf they want to go in a different direction, what can I do about that? I™m still here. I still can work. I’m still practicing.”

Asked about speaking with Blount, Rivers said, œNo, we™re not going to have any meetings. You earn your time on the floor, and that™s how we™ll do it. And when that happens he™ll play “ and he did; he played hard (yesterday), which is good. That™s a good start.

Following the practice, Blount engaged in an often circuitous discussion. On how he is doing, he said, œI™m here. I don™t know how to be scared. I don™t know how to hide. I™m here.

On whether Friday was disappointing for him, Blount replied, œNaw. Hey, whatever you want to know “ whatever you need to tell me “ I™m a real man. Call me or say what you™ve got to say. That™s it. You know what I mean? It is what it is.

Was it hard to sit like that?

œHey, you know, I™m here, and anything you™ve got to say just call me and let me know what™s up, he said. œI mean, that™s it. Talk to me.”

œYou tell me what™s going on. I would like to know, too. Nobody™s said nothing to me. . . . I don™t know. All I know is Mark Blount™s here and Mark Blount don™t know how to hide or be scared or whatever. So it is what it is, man.

When Rivers™ comments about his good effort yesterday were relayed to him, Blount shrugged.

œThey pay me to do my job, he said. œWhat do you want me to do? If I don™t play, what do you want me to do?

œI don™t know how to run from nobody. I™m from the old school “ an old school New York guy. So just keep hammering the nails in, baby.

Klapisch On The Resumption Of The Mets’ Mannymania

Posted in Baseball at 8:51 am by

As Newsday’s Jon Heyman noted yesterday, acquiring Carlos Delgado has not quelled the Mets’ interest in Manny Ramirez. From the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch.

Omar Minaya spent the entire Thanksgiving holiday working the phones – or, to be more specific, working the Red Sox for a possible deal for Manny Ramirez. According to a National League executive, the Mets made notable progress, a development that was seconded by a club official who said Sunday night, “We have a shot.”

Ramirez is, and always has been, Minaya’s biggest prey, although the hunt until now has been slowed by two obstacles. First, Ramirez’ $20 million annual salary was more than the Wilpon family was willing to spend. And second, Ramirez, 33, would almost certainly cost the Mets hot-shot outfield prospect Lastings Milledge.

That’s one reason Minaya was exploring a deal for Alfonso Soriano – until the Rangers’ demands included Milledge, said the NL source. Once the price tag became too steep, Minaya resumed an earlier dialogue with the Red Sox, who were surprisingly receptive. It’s still unclear whom, exactly, the Red Sox would demand in addition to Milledge, but Minaya may be willing to convince ownership that with Ramirez in a lineup that already has Carlos Delgado, the East can be conquered outright in 2006.

Perhaps resigned to the likelihood of losing Billy Wagner, the Phillies, according to the Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal, have stepped up their efforts to sign Tom Gordon.

Irvin’s Likely Story

Posted in Gridiron at 8:39 am by

From ESPN.com :

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin said Sunday night that a drug pipe police found in his car belonged to a longtime friend whom he’s trying to help recover from an addiction.

Irvin, an ESPN studio analyst and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his vehicle during a traffic stop Friday.

Irvin told The Associated Press late Sunday the pipe belonged to a friend of 17 years who left a Houston rehab center and came to Irvin’s house in Carrollton for Thanksgiving. Irvin wouldn’t reveal his friend’s name.

I’ll say one thing for Michael Irvin. Unlike some people, he can open his mouth without rolling over on Pedro Guerrero.

It should be an interesting day of chat radio. If, for example, Darryl Strawberry found himself in a similar situation, we can safely assume that for Colin Cowherd, Jim Rome, Dan Patrick, etc., the chronic Mets recidivist would be the object of ridicule. Whether or not similar treatment will extend to an ESPN colleague remains to be seen, but I suspect they’ll tread carefully.


Dodgers Show Little Initiative

Posted in Baseball at 8:10 pm by

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting the Los Angeles Dodgers have added former Boston manager Grady Little (above) to their growing list of managerial candidates, along with Angels pitching coach Bud Black, former Angels/Phillies manager Jim Fregosi and Devil Rays bench coach John McLaren.

Little is currently employed as a roving catching instructor by the Chicago Cubs. Coincidently, MLB Trade Rumors.com made the unsubstantiated claim Sunday that if the Cubs fail in their attempt to acquire Florida’s Juan Pierre, Dodgers OF Milton Bradley would represent Plan B. As in, “Plan Boo Fucking Hoo, We’re Waiting For Milton Bradley To Go Nuts”.

The trade value for LA’s Ticking Time Bomb is unquestionably low, so perhaps the right to negotiate with Little plus Corey Patterson would be in order?

Likely to lose B.J. Ryan to Toronto, Baltimore are honing in on free agent P Paul Byrd, reports the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebic and Dan Connolly.

Playmaker Pulled Over, Barely Intelligible Public Apology To Follow

Posted in Gridiron at 7:50 pm by

(this is what happens when you associate with the wrong crowd)

From USA Today.

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin was charged with misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia after police searched his vehicle during a traffic stop, Plano police said Sunday.

Irvin, an ESPN analyst and semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was arrested on an outstanding warrant for speeding in Irving after being pulled over Friday afternoon for speeding in Plano, the Plano Police Department said. Police spokesman Mike Johnson said he didn’t know what kind of paraphernalia was found.

Irvin paid a fine on the speeding ticket and posted bond on the drug paraphernalia possession charge. He was released about an hour after he was pulled over.

The sad thing is that everyone will assume that “drug paraphernalia” is code for “crack pipe”, when it could have been any number of things. Including a crack pipe.

Time For All Kickers Named Feely To Get Liquored Up

Posted in Gridiron at 7:40 pm by

Seahawks 24 Giants 21

There’s no truth to the rumor that Bill Parcells has already invited Jay Feely to Cowboys practice tomorrow.

Chaney : Stupid Is Forever

Posted in Basketball at 5:03 pm by

From the Associated Press :

Mardy Collins scored 19 points and had seven assists, and Dustin Salisbery added 16 points to lead Temple to a 73-56 win over Miami on Sunday.

With Temple (2-1) stretching its lead to 16 points in the final minutes, an object was thrown on the court, temporarily halting play and drawing the ire of coach John Chaney. He grabbed the microphone and told the crowd it wasn™t Temple™s way to be seen as œidiots.

œStupid is forever, Chaney told the crowd. œYou can™t change stupidity.

Hopefully, once he’s removed from the heat of the moment, Coach Chaney will remember that everyone deserves another chance.

It’s 5pm EST – Has Tom Brady Stopped Throwing Interceptions Yet?

Posted in Gridiron at 4:08 pm by

Kansas City 26, New England 16

I’m not listening to any Boston talk radio today, so someone else will have to tell me how much time elapsed after the final whistle before the first calls to put in Doug Flutie were taken.

All of that said, if the Pats weren’t missing something like a dozen guys, Tom Brady might not have been forcing so many throws into double or triple coverage. Likewise, if he had the luxury of a RB of Larry Johnson’s caliber (and I suspect he’d gladly settle for a healthy Corey Dillon), New England would have a wider margin in the AFC Least.

Despite their beating the Bucs and laissez-faire QB Chris Simms 13-10 earlier today, I’m one of the few who isn’t ready to proclaim the current Bears the new incanation of ’85′s Super Bowl Shufflers. For one thing, neither Thomas Jones nor Cedric Benson equate to Walter Payton, nor are Rex Grossman or Kyle Orton as talented (or annoying) as Jim McMahon in his prime. Though I’ll take nothing away from the genuinely imposing Brian Urlacher, I find his current Nike commericals to be intensely creepy, much like a shorter version of “Friday Night Lights” without the Explosions In The Sky score.

The $399 Diploma Mill

Posted in College Spurts, Gridiron at 3:32 pm by

The New York Times’ Pete Thamel and Duff Wilson deserve congratulations for Sunday’s runaway top story, the saga of University High, a correspondence school that for the miserly sum of $399, has helped many GPA-challenged student athletes gain scholarships with Division 1 schools.

University High, which has no classes and no educational accreditation, appears to have offered the players little more than a speedy academic makeover.

The school’s program illustrates that even as the N.C.A.A. presses for academic reforms, its loopholes are quickly recognized and exploited.

Athletes who graduated from University High acknowledged that they learned little there, but were grateful that it enabled them to qualify for college scholarships.

Lorenzo Ferguson, a second-year defensive back at Auburn, said he left Miami Southridge High School for University High, where after one month he had raised his average to 2.6 from 2.0.

“You take each course you failed in ninth or 10th grade,” he said. “If it was applied math, you do them on the packets they give you. It didn’t take that long. The answers were basically in the book.”

The N.C.A.A. has allowed students to use correspondence school courses to meet eligibility requirements since 2000. That year, the N.C.A.A. also shifted the power to determine which classes count as core courses to high school administrators. In doing so, it essentially left schools to determine their own legitimacy.

“We’re not the educational accreditation police,” Diane Dickman, the N.C.A.A.’s managing director for membership services, said in September.

The man who founded University High School and owned it until last year, Stanley J. Simmons, served 10 months in a federal prison camp from 1989 to 1990 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud for his involvement with a college diploma mill in Arizona. Among the activities Simmons acknowledged in court documents were awarding degrees without academic achievement and awarding degrees based on studies he was unqualified to evaluate.

In interviews last week, he said he should never have pleaded guilty and that he operated legitimate correspondence schools for adults.

In 2004, Simmons sold University High to Michael R. Kinney, its director. Kinney, 27, who was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in 2003 and is wanted on a bench warrant, declined to comment, despite requests by phone, fax and visits to his apartment.

Several University High graduates said they found the school through Antron Wright, a former XFL and Arena Football League player who is prominent in Miami’s high school athletic circles. He is considered a savior by some players, but one principal has barred Wright from his building for luring athletes to a rival school and introducing them to University High.

Rosen Rips Radmanovich

Posted in Basketball at 2:58 pm by

Though beating up on the Sonics’ Vladimir Radmanovich is about as dignified as pushing George Wallace down the stairs, who’s to say the former Alabama Governor wouldn’t have deserved it? From Fox Sports’ Charley Rosen.

Radmanovic turned down a six-year, $42 million pact from the Sonics, opting for a lesser one-year deal that will make him an unrestricted free agent next year. Even though he can’t handle the ball, can’t pass, doesn’t play defense, and is a totally one-dimensional player who must shoot close to fifty percent to benefit his ball club, Radmanovic can’t understand not only why he’s not getting beaucoup minutes, but why he isn’t starting in the first place.

Perhaps V-Rad should take a look at his stats ” he’s shooting less than 37 percent, has averaged less than three rebounds per game, has nearly as many turnovers as assists, and attempts less than one free throw per game.

Here’s what an ex-teammate had to say about Radmanovic: “The more this stiff played, the less chance we had of winning.”

So who’s more of a numbskull? Radmanovic? Or Seattle’s GM, Wally Walker, who made the original and outrageous long-term offer to begin with?

The Boston Globe’s Peter May reports on a Shammond Williams sighting.

It seems that the coach of FC Barcelona, Dusko Ivanovic, was more than a bit upset after his team lost, 82-70, to Llanera Menorca. Ivanovic, who has a reputation for being a bit of wing nut, lashed out at Shammond Williams (above), who called Boston home for a while. Williams picked up a technical and then, according to the game report, struck an opponent in the face near the end of the game. ”There are players who have shown me they don’t have any character, and if that’s the case, it’s going to be hard for them to stay at the club,” Ivanovic fumed. Well, a couple of days later, Williams redeemed himself with a 24-point performance in a 65-60 victory, and all was well again.

Self-Appointed Baseball Conscience Denies Shilling For Mets

Posted in Baseball at 1:51 pm by

(any excuse, however flimsy, to show the same photograph of Jean Louis Costes, is good enough for me)

From the NY Daily News’ Bob Raissman.

As part of their recruitment of Billy Wagner, Mets suits shipped him a DVD featuring celebrities praising the city. Tim McGraw, Kevin James, Jerry Seinfeld and Costas all made appearances in the DVD.

This was news to Costas.

“No one (from the Mets) contacted me to do anything,” Costas said. “If I’m in it, maybe they used an old clip. For all I know they used something from ‘Ken Burns: Baseball’ (the documentary). I didn’t do anything specifically for the Mets, let alone take part in the wooing of Billy Wagner.”

Presumably, the Mets didn’t use the Tim McGraw segments from “Jazz : A Film By Ken Burns”. But full credit to Omar Minaya — there are few NY icons more appealing than the former voice of the Cardinals, nor the author of such hits as “Indian Outlaw” and “Refried Dreams”.

Know Your Role – Mulligan On Saban’s Spiel

Posted in Gridiron at 10:19 am by

In the aftermath of Dolphins coach Nick Saban’s poorly-received “results don’t matter” press conference last week, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mike Mulligan has no quarrel with Miami’s long term goals. He’d just prefer that Saban not talk about them.

The role of a general manager is to save the team from the coach. The GM looks at the bigger picture, evaluates personnel on a game-to-game basis against the rest of the league and tries to direct the coach toward lasting success instead of the shortsighted type that fuels successful seasons. Saban (above) was talking like a general manager when he evaluated his 3-7 team after last week’s loss.

He started backpedaling like the old defensive back he is when he realized the big story in Miami was the coach had raised a white flag on the season. Forget talk about a playoff run, the Dolphins were trying to figure out whom they wanted to replace for next season. How about a new quarterback, for one?

The fact of the matter is that Miami is coming off its second-worst season. And the unit the Dolphins were built around in the past, the defense, is aging rapidly and losing longtime stars to injury.

Saban, a former defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick back in Cleveland, might know the secret formula for success that Belichick and his family tree have been spreading around the NFL. Saban has reportedly been teaching his handpicked GM Randy Mueller a system of evaluating players that takes into account intelligence and character as well as physical ability.

It all sounds great. But in many ways, some of the things that Saban has struggled with — controlling the media, staying on message, keeping the fans happy — are problems Belichick had in Cleveland in his first go-around as a head coach. Saban has been a head coach on the college level, but he has been out of the NFL for 10 years. A lot of solid football people believe Saban eventually will win. He needs to talk like a coach until he does.

Vescey : Brown’s No Red

Posted in Basketball at 10:06 am by

The New York Post’s Peter Vescey on Knicks coach Larry Brown, from whom never is heard an encouraging word.

After each and every loss, sometimes even following a win, you can count on Brown to unravel at least one of his players and glorify an opponent.

“That’s Larry in a nutshell,” one of his former prized pupils substantiates. “He loves everyone on the other side and hates everyone on his team, except the last guy on the roster whose hustle and attitude Larry uses as an example to motivate everyone else.”

So far, off the top of my head, Brown has professed love for Eric Snow, Larry Hughes, Baron Davis, Kevin Ollie, George Lynch and Brevin Knight.

Give Brown a little more time and a few more leading questions and Brown is bound to playa hate 99 percent of the payroll, including Allan Houston, in the same manner he’s dishonorably mentioned Stephon Marbury, Nate Robinson, Jerome James, Quentin Richardson, Jamaal Crawford and Eddy Curry; I apologize if I’ve left anyone out.

It’s worthy of note that Red Holzman, the man Brown supposedly emulates and idolizes, never spoke unfavorably about one of his players, on or off the record. If they deserved it, Holzman would let them know what he thought of their effort or execution. But once he left the locker room to meet the media, he never came close to uttering a disparaging word about the team or any individual.

If Holzman were alive, I guarantee you he’d seek out Brown, one Hall of Famer to another, and try to impress upon him how disloyal his nightly exposés make him look.

It’s a shame nobody living off Brown has ever been man enough to do it. Either that, or he doesn’t want to listen to anybody who tells him something he doesn’t want to hear.

Toros Drop Home Opener

Posted in Basketball at 9:51 am by

Fayetteville 100, Austin 95

A fairly mixed bag for Austin’s home NBDL debut Saturday — despite a handful of sublime moments from Ezra Williams and former Texas Tech standout Andre Emmett, much of last night’s loss to the Patriots was characterized by sloppy passing, lackadaisical defense and curious shot selection.

As a follower of the New York Knicks, I felt right at home.

I thought Toros management didn’t do a bad job of making the Austin Convention Center vaguely resemble a basketball venue — though it would help if the scoreboard operator reviews the manual before the next game. Likewise, the usual cheesy trappings of most minor league sporting events were in abundance. “Couldn’t they get real cheerleaders instead of these cheap sluts?” inquired a friend. I’m sorry, but that’s no way to talk about Mayor Wynn.

Kermit Washington sparring partner Rudy Tomjanovich was introduced and given a warm ovation before the game. Having seen a sprightly Rudy T. exiting the Men’s Room at halftime, I can report that no longer having to coach Kobe Bryant seems to have done wonders for his appearance.

Mets’ Manny Manuevering To Resume

Posted in Baseball at 9:12 am by

Here we go again. Newsday’s Jon Heyman writes that despite the addition of Carlos Delgado, the ever-ambitious Mets aren’t quite finished looking for star power.

Mets and Red Sox execs have agreed to discuss Manny Ramirez at the winter meetings in Dallas in early December, and Omar Minaya recently told one baseball person, “I’m going for it.”

One thing about Minaya, he loves offense. Another thing: When he falls in love, he falls hard.

While one Mets official characterized their chances to squeeze Ramirez into their budget as “not impossible,” he acknowledged that a deal for Ramirez, which would necessitate clearing significant salary space and involve “several moving pieces,” won’t be easy. And that’s only if Ramirez consents to coming home.

Minaya’s infatuation is so well known that one of Carlos Delgado’s first questions about his new employers was, “Are they going to trade me to Boston for Manny?” The answer, Delgado was told, is no. He’s here to stay.

The Angels, deep in young pitching, competed with the Mets for Delgado. Their next logical target could be Ramirez. With Ramirez preferring a slow-paced lifestyle, perhaps they can sell him by changing their name back to Anaheim.

Though Delgado is technically allowed to demand a trade after 2006, there’s NO SHOT (the first- ever appearance of all caps in this column) he’d follow through and walk away from his heavily backloaded contract ($34.5 million total in ’07 and ’08). Which means the Mets have him for three years if they like, whether he likes it or not.

Just guessing here, but it would take Milledge, Cliff Floyd and Steve Trachsel and perhaps further bodies to get this done. And as tantalizing as the Mets’ near term future might be, what do you reckon the vibe around Shea will be like in 3 years when Martinez, Delgado and Ramirez are making a combined $45 million or so (at the combined age of 111?).

With the Marlins folding, Phillies and Nationals obviously vulnerable and the Braves less imposing than anytime in the past 15 years (pending Rafael Furcal’s status), Omar Minaya can see the wide-open window of opportunity. Of course, the Mets have yet to resolve their closer situation, add a top flight catcher, appoint a right fielder (unless Nady and Victor Diaz are expected to platoon) nor determine if the Kaz Matsui Disaster is allowed to continue for a 3rd season.

Chass On The MLB-Owned Nats

Posted in Baseball at 2:44 am by

Until Major League Baseball finally determines which of the 8 competiting consortiums will be allowed to purchase the Washington Nationals, the team remains at a competitive disadvantage argues the NY Times’ Murray Chass.

Bob DuPuy, the president of Major League Baseball, told reporters at the recent owners meeting in Milwaukee that the delay in selecting an owner isn’t affecting the Nationals. But of course, it is. No matter how well the staff representing the current owner is doing its job, the eventual owner is being deprived of a chance to make his own player moves.

If there’s a free agent or two a new owner may covet, if there’s a trade or two a new owner may want to make, the moves cannot be made. The incumbent regime is not empowered to spend someone else’s money.

For example, the caretaker regime would like to sign the free-agent pitcher A. J. Burnett. The Nationals have spoken with Darek Braunecker, Burnett’s agent, but they have not made an offer. They will probably not be able to make a competitive offer because no new owner is in place to authorize it.

General Manager Jim Bowden (above) and before him Omar Minaya have had to stay within a budget dictated by baseball, forcing them to make difficult choices and pass on players they might have wanted.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said that all teams face similar decisions. But the owners of those teams are free to make decisions. Bowden and Tony Tavares, the Nationals’ president, are not similarly free to make decisions for their team.

If Jerry Reinsdorf wanted to give Jermaine Dye $10 million to play for the Chicago White Sox for two years, he was free to make that decision, a good one as it turned out because Dye was the World Series most valuable player. If Frank McCourt wanted to give the oft-injured J. D. Drew $11 million a year to play for the Dodgers for five years, only to see injury limit him to 72 games this year, it was his money and his prerogative to do it.

The Nationals are not free to be smart or foolish.

Portsmouth In Turmoil, Sir Bobby To The Rescue?

Posted in Football at 2:31 am by

I’d like to say the field for the new manager at Portsmouth is shaping up, though other than Bobby Robson, it’s hard to say who wants the job or who’s available.

Just to recap, Portsmouth fired manager Alain Perrin on Thursday, followed by a 2-0 home defeat to table toppers Chelsea on Saturday.

Crystal Palace’s Simon Jordan has denied 17th place Pompey the opportunity to interview Iain Dowie. And the much-travelled Neil Warnock, otherwise occupied at Sheffield United (beaten by Leicester yesterday, 4-2 ), says he’s uninterested .

Despite Warnock sort of being like a younger, less miserable Larry Brown, I think he means it.

A Vote For The Dog-Faced Gremlin Is A Vote For The Future

Posted in Lower Education, Professional Wrestling at 2:08 am by

(the former Robert Reichsteiner, then and now)

Though this story is over a week old, it has only just been called to my attention. You could blame me, or yourself for not calling it to my attention sooner.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Chris Reinolds.

Without so much as a body slam, real estate agent and former professional wrestler Rick Steiner became Cherokee County’s newest school board member.

The board voted 4-2 on Nov. 10 to appoint Steiner to the seat vacated by Fred Larsen in September. Steiner will stay in the post until the end of 2006, when the seat is up for re-election.

Steiner, 44, said he has quit wrestling and works for Keller Williams Realty in Woodstock. He spoke to the board before the vote.

“Last time I was in front of a microphone five years ago, I was hollering and screaming and ranting and raving. ? This is a lot more terrifying,” he said.

Steiner praised the district’s anti-bullying program and said he would encourage the district to use retired teachers as volunteer tutors. He wants to provide more learning opportunities for teachers and improve technology use in the schools. On the issue of growth, Steiner said more pressure should be put on land developers to donate sites to the school system. He also emphasized his experience as a teacher, fund-raiser and businessman.

Steiner is expected to be sworn in this morning.

“I want to focus my attention on what’s best for the kids,” he said. “I want to be a spoke in the wheel and do whatever I have to do for the kids.”

Steiner has three children who attend E.T. Booth Middle and Harvest Baptist School. He said his younger sons will eventually attend Chapman Intermediate School. He enrolled them in the private Christian school because it gives them a moral base, he said.

While I’m not questioning Steiner’s integrity, I am hopeful that nepotism doesn’t result in Big Poppa Pump being hired as a P.E. teacher.